Because I Love Them.

by Lori Dwyer on April 13, 2012 · 20 comments

There were so many mums who understood this post, when I published it last week. Just when I get to the point where I feel alone, like some kind of emotional oddity… people speak, and they prove me wrong.

It’s common, it seems, if you have experienced grief or trauma at any level– if you suffer PTSD, if you’re grieving someone who you loved dearly, someone who an integral part of your day to day life, a flowing force in your existence… you disconnect.

If you are one of the people lucky enough to have children, you notice it sharply, fiercely, especially when you view it in contrast to what you felt in your Before. (Anyone in this category, I think we all have a Before… a time when the world was lighter and easier, a time when we asked ourselves “How on earth do they do it?” instead of feeling the dull thud of knowledge “I know exactly how they do it.. they have no other choice.”). Because children are tiny mirrors, and they reflect yourself back at you in your purest form… no social niceties to soften the sting of unhappiness.

Just as I said last time– I know. I remember how I would have felt in my Before, reading this… slightly amazed and saddened, wanting to disbelieve it. Not quite sure how it could happen, but being very sure it would never happen to me, no matter what the situation… how could the love I feel for my children change in any way, no matter the proceeding circumstances?

It does change… it just… does. And it’s not something you see immediately, it’s not something you feel happening. With intense and sudden grief and trauma, there is no time to feel anything… you’re numb for months; and when you finally start to tingle with the pins and needles of real life again you have been molded, slightly; yourself but warped, and those around you might be able to see the difference… but you can’t.

So I know how some of you might feel, reading this. And I know I’m different with my children now, than what I was in the Before. I get that. And I understand that intense love that you feel, the emotion that causes the slight bewilderment you’re feeling as you read this. But only because I remember it… not because I feel it now.

I love my children. I would, quite literally, die for them. I remember telling my nan once, in the Before, that the difference between my love for my children and my husband could defined in a nanosecond. If either of them– kids, or Man– happened to be in sudden danger of the dramatic kind, and throwing myself in the path of an oncoming vehicle would save them; then there was only a split instance of difference in my love for them.

With my husband… I would have stopped, just for a moment, and thought about it. I would have done it anyway, thrown myself into the path of danger for him, no question.. but pure instinct would have made me stop for a moment, would have made the action I was about to take a choice.

If it were my children, there would be no half hesitation, no time for pause. My instinct would not stop me to ask me questions– it would throw me into the traffic without pause, without deliberation… in a heartbeat. There would be no choice in the matter (nor would I want one.).

And I still love my children that way. I still, instinctively, protect them and watch for them. I check on them before I go to bed, I know their favorite foods and bad habits ans shoe sizes.

But I rarely miss them. I would rather spend my time alone, or with my friends. I no longer hold off on doing the grocery shopping until I’m with my kids, because they make it more fun, I rush to do it without them because it’s easier.

The tiny things that were once minor irritations and paled in comparison to the pure enjoyment of being in the company of my offspring are now exasperating, annoying to the point where I am a snappy, cranky person. I try not to be… sometimes it’s difficult.

Don’t underestimate me here, or any other parent who happens to feel them same. My children are still very much loved. I tell them how wonderful they are, how I’m proud of them. They are fed and read to and clothed and warm. All their needs– including the need for a kiss and a cuddle when they desire– are met.

But I guess you could say– and forgive me for cliched corniness, but it really is solid truth– my heart isn’t it.

I explain all this to my psychologist and, as I do when I talk to her, I take a step back and realize that maybe I need to let up– my God, I am doing OK here. Some days I’m even doing well. I tell her all of this, I explain this disconnection, and she assures me that it’s normal, that it’s OK, that it’s understandable. And, of course, she makes me see that’s it’s not only children I feel this way with… it’s most things. Every emotional connection I had– and, if I’m honest, experiencing most emotions at all, except those that are truly intense enough to take my breath away– are pale imitations of what they used to be, a sepia toned picture that was once bursting with color.

It’s the enjoyment that’s missing, my shrink tells me. The enjoyment– the joy. I am living, and sometimes– more and more– I am content; but I rarely find joy in anything…. sadly, my children included.

As I’ve mentioned here before- I’m aware that my children are aware of this, and it will effect them, even if it is somewhere (the id?) that is so primal they may never be able to access it or know exactly why they themselves are over emotional, or co-dependent, or cold, or unable to commit. And that sucks, that’s fucked, and I know it, I own it, every day…but that’s life. And life’s a bitch.
The best I can do is keep working at it, keep melting the ice that sits around that intense joy and love that I know is still there, somewhere. And have some faith that one day I’ll be able to reach in and touch that source of it, replenish my enjoyment in the people around me whenever I desire. And I can have hope that when my children are older– so much older, old enough to know how heartbreaking being an adult can be– that they’ll know that I tried. I fought. I’m still trying.

It occurred to me today, as I was burying my four year old’s legs in sand on the beach, that I lived here in Paradise for six months, and we were at the beach almost every day. And it never once occurred to me to build a sandcastle with my kids…. and if it did, and I acted on it, then I have no memory of it.

Today we built castles, we examined rock pools, we wrote our names in the sand… we had fun. Together. Just the three of us.

I must be getting better, slowly. There’s proof of that, real, physical proof, in the castles we left behind on the beach.

I love my children with everything I’ve got…. They are a balm to the pain. They are my soul, my cells, my existence… my world revolves around them.

And that’s the reason I’m still going, still trying to melt that obscuring cloudy ice inside. Because I love t
hem
. Because the mother they had is gone, and she’s not coming back.

But they have this one, still. And she’s doing the best she can.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Mirne April 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Your shrink is totally right – the enjoyment is missing. I miss my kids every single day. And the joy from Before is gone. Completely. I think it died with my kids. And with the arrival of the PTSD.

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Melissa April 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Such an amazingly powerful post. Beautiful, clear and true.

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Karen April 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm

It takes so much courage to write an honest post about some aspects of being a parent.
Thank You for your bravery, thank you for your trust, and thank you for your blog.

One of my faves.

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Cath April 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Lori you are doing an amazing job! You are living each day and whether you know it or not you are finding a little bit of joy in each day …

I am glad that you are slowly finding a way through the fog …

C xxx

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Hespera's Garden (Kristie) April 14, 2012 at 10:24 am

sweet sweet Lori.

It is hard. Because they are a reflection of ourselves and we so so so want to isolate ourselves from the horror we see. The pain they mirror back, the hollowness but the love we want to give is there too.

We do what we can. It is hard. It will always be hard. But it will get easier. Better. Simpler.

Slowly. Surely.

Until then – we fumble as best we can.

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Janet NZ April 14, 2012 at 5:02 am

Don't be so hard on yourself Lori! From the outside, looking in – you're doing such an amazing job. I heard David Bowie interviewed once, talking about himself as a parent… "your parents fuck you up" he said "it's their job…"
I suspect all parents disconnect at some stage, not just the ones who have been through something as dreadful as you…
The best thing? Your kids will one day be able to read this – and KNOW how hard you tried. XXXOOO

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the worstest mommy April 14, 2012 at 3:56 am

I don't know what I have, PTSD, depression, anxiety…shit, I could be bi-polar for all I know. I just know that it is hard for me usually to see the joy in my kids. I have to really try hard to see it. They aren't extremely annoying or obnoxious…they just have needs, all the time, and it's just me that knows how to fill them. Special needs kids drain the ever-loving life out of you until one day you realize that you tend to your kids like a job…an unpaid one. Rarely do I notice the achievements, the special moments anymore. But they are there, and when I see them, they are acknowledged. Just hang on…one day it will happen. You are doing a great job Lori!

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Neenish Arts April 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm

i have teared up reading this.
the inner joy will come back, its still only been a short time since the before.
virtual hug to you

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Sharon @ Funken Wagnel April 13, 2012 at 6:48 pm

We can see it happening before our eyes, Lori. You're on the right path:)

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SJ April 13, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Lori, it makes sense (if that's possible) to me-I don't know a damn thing about disconnection personally-but it makes sense.
Cheers Sarah

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A Daft Scots Lass April 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm

You're doing a great job. They have a mum who loves them no matter what. The other stuff will slot back into place over time. But you know that.

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Anonymous April 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm

OH God I understand I understand I understand. When you plan the perfect family, the perfect life, you have the perfect baby…. then it's not. I had a before. But my after is forever. My child will never be normal and people always say "it could be worse you know". Fuck them. I understand. You do what you have to, what a good mum does. And look at others in their natural blissful ignorant happiness and resent them, hate them even. They will never know. And you will never ever have what they have, it's been stolen from you. Lori, I know. OK I have a husband. But your children are normal. We all have our stuff. And I understand.

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exumbrerum April 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm

That's one of the most painfully honest things I have ever read. Thank you for sharing it. It's not just you.

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Sophie April 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Kids are so much more resilant and forgiving than we give them credit. They will understand Lori. They will love you the harder for trying so hard.

When my Jordan was born we approached the daycare next to the hospital for help as I wasn't able to take my two and half year old into the icu (he was just too wild). They took him and applied for something from the government… families in crisis that kind of thing. I would be very surprised if you didn't qualify for some free childcare. Even one day a week works miracles. If you want to talk more about it, email me.

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Rachel April 13, 2012 at 11:55 am

Oh Lori. I am pretty sure that most of us who have two young kids prefer not to take them grocery shopping! And if I can get away from mine I do relish time alone, time with my friends, just a bit of headspace. It's not easy being a mum, and in your case, not just a single parent but a sole parent, quite alone with the responsibilities, triumphs and sorrows of parenthood. But having seen you with your kids recently, you are wonderful with them. When I take my two kids out, I am conscious that I look harried and fishwifey, carting my wriggling son and shouting at my daughter to try to keep her from escaping. You are calm and confident, conscious of their needs, making sure they are having fun and your day works for all three of you. You have found your groove with them on your own. And I think when we suffer a tragedy, lose someone dear to our hearts, it's only natural that we build a wall, encase ourselves in ice, even against those we love so much, just because we wouldn't survive that hurt again. It will melt in time.

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Dee. April 13, 2012 at 10:48 am

Our passions are the true phoenixes, when the old one is burnt out, a new one rises from its ashes.
-Johann von Goethe

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keeksaz April 13, 2012 at 10:46 am

I can absolutely relate. I prayed for my son and went through infertility for years and it makes me feel so guilty that now I have times when it's all I can do to get through to nap time and I would give ANYTHING for someone to come take him for the day so I could just crawl back in bed. He is very loved and cared for and his needs are met, but inside sometimes I'm screaming. Some days there are extra naps because I need that break not because he's tired. And I hate it and hate myself but I also know that I am doing the absolute best that I possibly can. Although that doesn't help. At all. You're definitely not alone.

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Vicky April 13, 2012 at 10:36 am

Since PTSD rose its ugly head in my life I have constantly grieved the loss of the mother that I think my children deserve…

But something strange has happened. Without me having anything to do with it, my two eldest children 13 and 16, the two that have been on the ride the longest, have expressed separately, and publicly, their opinions about me. And it wasn't what I expected, or believed that they thought. My Son wrote for school to a question Who was his idol? His answer, My mum. She is amazing. My daughter, well I'll just copy and paste what she said…

"Dear mum:
Well. You're my idol. I hope that one day I will be as amazing as you.
I am so glad that you chose me to be your daughter, even through the bad and horrible times, I'm still proud to call you my mum.
Our relationship is so special, we don't have the same relationship that most mothers and daughters have. You're my friend. We talk about things that friends would talk about!
You are there for not only me but people I love and care about. You will go out of your way to help someone that is in need. I love that about you.
I miss you every second of everyday Mum.
I'm so proud to call you my Mumma "

I cried big fat tears when I read that.

I guess what I'm trying to say Lori, is that even though your babies may not have the childhood that you imagined in the "before", the one they are having right now may just surprise you.

Light and Love xoxo

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Debyl1 April 13, 2012 at 10:12 am

Oh Lori the mum they had may be gone but the one that is coming back as that cloudy ice melts can only be a stronger one with a brighter light shining from within.
She will have come from a place that can only make her more amazing to them as she will be so proud of herself for how far she has come and how many people she has helped along her journey.
She will be their beacon of light and love and hope.You are doing it.That cloud is going to be melted away by that incredible warmth inside your soul.Shine on beautiful lady x

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Elise April 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Oh lori, this made me tear up. My husband has severe PTSD from the war in Iraq and sometimes I get so mad at him because he takes the joy out of things. Having you explain it, even though he has explained it to me already, was really quite something. IT could have been my husband writing this post instead of you. I pray that both you and my husband, and anyone suffering with PTSD, once again finds the colors in their lives.

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